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Home > Weblog w/e 6.4.2002
|Saturday 6 April 2002, 23:30 BST|
blogger and science fiction author Charlie Stross has
a short story collection out. If his two
stories in Gardner Dozois' Year's Best SF 18
collection are anything to go by, Toast: And Other
Rusted Futures promises to be one of the SF
highlights of 2002.
Cory Doctorow has posted a snippet from a story he and Stross have collaborated on:
Welcome to the fractured future, at the dusk of the twenty-first century.I like it.
(NB/- I haven't seen a table of contents for Toast, so I don't know whether the Doctorow/Stross collaboration is included.)
Note to non-UK readers: some of the UK press were seriously unimpressed that BBC newsreader Peter Sissons wore a burgundy tie when he announced the death of the Queen Mother. Former Tory spin doctor Amanda Platell wrote an unintentionally hilarious piece in this week's New Statesman and somehow managed to conclude that Sisson's disrespectful demanour was yet another sign that the licence fee should be scrapped forthwith. (Unfortunately the article isn't online yet, but it should be up in a couple of weeks.)
[Brains Trust article via MetaFilter]
Borg Journalism. We are the Blogs. Journalism will be
A thoughtful article which makes good points as to what weblogs are good for, and why they're never going to replace investigative journalism. (Had anyone seriously suggested they would?)
[Via world of jill matrix]
|Friday 5 April 2002, 23:15 BST|
an expensive lesson about the need for
both partners to use birth control.
[Via miss bitch]
|The owner of Pets Warehouse is
rather vigorous approach in the face of criticism from
his customers. I'll just say that you should
read the article and ask yourself whether this guy deserves
to have any customers left if he keeps on behaving like
Ouch! The Los Angeles Times reviews Ed
Burns' new film, Sidewalks:
It's easy to see why Edward Burns' "Sidewalks of New York" was postponed from its September opening date. In one of the first scenes, you can see the late World Trade Center, looming majestically, directly over Burns' right shoulder. Which wouldn't be so bad. But it's giving the better performance.
The Big Lebowski
Random Quote Generator. It does exactly
what it says on the tin.
Dude: No, man, nothing is fucked here--The Dude ... abides...
|Thursday 4 April 2002, 23:10 BST|
edition of Maxim magazine published an article
claiming Philadelphia is the greatest city on
So far, so mundane. In fact, Maxim printed thirteen different editions of the magazine, each one proclaiming a different city to be the best and dissing their rival cities, the idea being to distribute the appropriate edition of the magazine to each region.
Unfortunately, Maxim's distributors managed to send the wrong editions to each region, with predictable results. Oh well, they do say there's no such thing as bad publicity...
Blog.craze. A very neatly done
weblog-style newspaper article about weblogs.
We hear a lot
about security holes and backdoors in
software, but a major element in the problem
is that even when vulnerabilities are identified and fixed
many users don't install the patches and updates made
available by the software's authors.
One approach to this is Microsoft's Windows Update system, which some people like and others distrust with a passion. Jon Lasser suggests a more radical approach: build a timecode into software so that it stops working after X months and forces you to install an update.
I can see a problem with this. Lasser uses as one of his examples a user who insists on using out of date versions of SSH and PGP because these older versions work better with other tools than the latest ones. To Lasser, this is an example of a user who needs to be saved from himself. To me, it's a sign that the user has decided to stick with what works rather than put up with decreased functionality (from that user's perspective, based on his needs) in the interests of improved security. The big question is whether improvements in security warrant forcing users to upgrade. Wouldn't it be better for software authors to release patches for old versions of their software, rather than roll the patches in with new, "improved" features and force users to take both on board?
|Michael "Stupid White Men" Moore is
often very funny about big business and
politicians. The question is, do the
facts he throws around so freely add up?
Later this month
we're going to be treated to a once-in-a-lifetime
astronomical phenomenon: all five planets visible to the
lined up in a row.
Best of all, the spectacle will be repeated for several nights in a row so we're not likely to lose the chance of getting a good look just because of the odd cloudy night.
billgatespleasehireme.com. You can't say
this guy doesn't know what he wants.
|Wednesday 3 April 2002, 23:25 BST|
You remember that
site Microsoft and Unisys put up? The one
that turned out to be running on a
Well, Microsoft decided to switch the site to a server running Microsoft's very own Internet Information Server (running, of course, on Windows). Would you care to guess what happened next?
[Via More a way of life....]
A new release of
out. If you're not sure why you might need
this story about the latest attempt to exploit your
PC without your knowledge. As a couple of posters to an
entirely different MetaFilter thread put it,
after the first poster installed AdAware:
[Brilliant Digital story via MetaFilter]
writes to Locus
Dear Locus Online,
A double helping of P J
O'Rourke. First, he's
coming over all snarky about a letter from 103 Nobel
And allow me to be the millionth person to point out that among the Nobel Peace Prize winners are Yasir Arafat, Shimon Peres, Henry Kissinger, Le Duc Tho, and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. ("If the mushroom cloud doesn't clear up, call me in the morning.")Then he takes issue (NB/- New York Times article: free registration required) with the advice on offer in some books on modern manners:
"The Fabulous Girl's Guide" is to social climbing what Dante's "Inferno" would be to salvation if Dante had chosen Petronius instead of Virgil as his docent in Hades: "The eighth circle is tough to get into. We're talking hypocrites and evil counselors and I mean major players, not run-of-the-mill Sunday talk-show pundits. Fortunately, I got our names on the list."
[Via Arts & Letters Daily]
"Not While I'm
Alive, He Ain't!"
That comment is attributed to Ernest Bevin, Foreign Secretary in the post-war Labour government, in response to someone commenting that Bevin's rival Herbert Morrison was "his own worst enemy." Brian Walden presented a short programme on Radio 4 earlier this evening on the subject of political rivalries, and opened with Bevin vs Morrison, complete with comments from such Labour luminaries as Denis Healey and Morrison's grandson, a chap by the name of Peter Mandelson.
I'll grant you that this might not sound like a riveting listen, but it was a highly worthwhile programme, especially when you consider the extent to which such rivalries shaped - and continue to shape (see Blair vs Brown) - the course of governments. In this case, one legacy of Bevin's hatred of Morrison may have been that when Morrison took over the Foreign Office from Bevin the civil servants he had to work with had been so influenced by Bevin's view of his rival that this may have contributed to Morrison's failure to make much of the post. Or else it may simply have been that Bevin was one of the great post-war Foreign Secretaries and anyone else would look second-rate by comparison.
Next week's programme is on the Harold Wilson-George Brown rivalry. I do hope that Walden turns his attention to Tory governments of Thatcher and Major, or perhaps the Healey-Benn emnity of the 70s and early 80s.
|Tuesday 2 April 2002, 22:25 BST|
Watch out for the
rabbit! I know I've spotted this a few
days too late for Easter, but it's too funny to not mention
just because it's not quite topical. (Flash required.)
[Via miss bitch]
Fellowship of the Ring meets Moulin
Rouge. With a little help from
(among others) Prince & The Revolution, Guns 'n'
Roses, Meatloaf, Chumbawumba, ABBA, Bob the Builder, ABC,
the Addams Family, Queen, the Bee Gees and Adam and the
Ants. Wonderfully silly:
Merry & Pippin: Biiiiill the Pony, can he carry it? Biiiiiiill the Pony, yes! he! can!
Has the web become
boring? The New York Times
certainly thinks so (NB/- free registration
You can probably guess my answer given the number of links I post here every week. Let Scott Rosenberg explain why the media run this sort of story every few months. (Incidentally, the title of Rosenberg's piece is just perfect, don't you think?)
Spokes. Colourful. Fun. Likely to dazzle
or distract your fellow road users?
[Via Boing Boing]
Over on rec.arts.sf.written,
James Nicoll reviews
The Essential Novels of
Harry S Truman.
[Via Pigs & Fishes]
[Via Hava Cuppa Tea]
|Monday 1 April 2002, 23:25 BST|
online April Fool story this year, courtesy of The
You've Got Blogs!
"No cat will ever go ill again in America again in obscurity."
[Via Ben Hammersley.Com]
|Microsoft and Unisys have launched We Have The Way
Out, a web site aimed at persuading large
companies to use Windows instead of Unix on the servers in
their corporate datacentres. Nothing very interesting
there, you might think: the Windows NT/2000/XP product
line hasn't really made much of a dent in the market share
of Unix in enterprise-level computing over the last few
years, so they're bound to try to press their case.
However, you'd think that Microsoft would have learned by now that it's a bit of an own goal to have the web site which hosts your anti-Unix campaign run on ... you guessed it ... Unix.
World's First Banjo Concert for Penguins.
If that line doesn't grab you, nothing I add here will make
[Via dust from a distant sun]
|Sir John Nott, the Secretary of State for
Defence during the Falklands Crisis, has published his
memoirs. Presumably he's hoping to cash in on
the 20th anniversary of the invasion. Whatever his reasons,
according to Matthew Parris Sir John
reminds us of one very interesting fact about the
support the British received from their NATO allies.
It's long been known that the United States government was somewhat reluctant to support the British government wholeheartedly in the early stages of the conflict, given the understandable American desire to remain on good terms with Argentina's South American neighbours. (In fairness, once it was clear that a war was going to happen the US government did provide intelligence and logistic support.) What's less well known is that the the British received a great deal of vital information about the Argentine weapons systems from the French, right up to their lending the RAF examples of the types of aircraft flown by the Argentine forces. Strangely enough, I don't remember that assistance getting much of a mention at the time.
If Caspar Weinberger (who was US Defence Secretary during the Falklands crisis) got an honourary knighthood for his service to the British cause, why didn't President Mitterrand get one too? Call me petty, but I'd have dearly loved to see Mrs Thatcher's face as she watched a socialist French President pick up a gong from the Queen.
|Sunday 31 March 2002, 23:55 BST|
The details of the
Region 2 DVD release of The Lord of the Rings: The
Fellowship of the Ring have been
released. Frankly it seems to me that they're
taking advantage of the fans, releasing not one but
two DVD sets between now and the release of The
Two Towers next Xmas. If they released a super-duper
boxed set of the trilogy after the release of The
Return of the King theh that would be reasonable,
but they just know some fans won't be able to resist having
both DVD sets.
I think I'll go for the 2-DVD set that's due for release in August. I'm not sure that I really want the extra half-hour of footage all that badly.
Burchill is to be the subject of a
The one-woman show - starring the comedian Jackie Clune - will be set in the front room of the vitriolic columnist's Brighton mansion while her boyfriend lurks off-stage fixing the computer because the "I" key has jammed.Heh.
With You Always. A hilarious riff on Jesus - With You
[Via Boing Boing]
Play to Pay. An interesting article
comparing the usability of the various industry-sanctioned
music download sites that are supposed to replace Napster.
It seems to me that some of the problems identified are
technical and can be overcome in time. Improved search
capabilities are presumably not totally impossible to
implement, and it's not beyond the bounds of possibility
that the record labels will eventually figure out that it's
better to combine their resources and make it possible to
find all their material in one place. Idiocies like
limiting the number of downloads per artist are nothing to
do with technical factors and could be dropped.
In principle it's no bad thing to have these different services compete and try out different approaches to charging and downloading so that the industry can find out what their customers want from an official music download service. Unfortunately, there are two reasons why these "official" services are doomed. First, they appear to want to force you to subscribe to them forever if you want to keep listening to the music you've downloaded, which is simply crazy. Second, they've turned most of their potential users into adversaries by spending the last three or four years treating their customers like thieves and lecturing them about morality instead of figuring out how to give the public what they so clearly want.
[Shift review via Boing Boing, Eisner article via MetaFilter]
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